May Minireviews

Sometimes I don’t feel like writing a full review for whatever reason, either because life is busy and I don’t have time, or because a book didn’t stir me enough.  Sometimes, it’s because a book was so good that I just don’t have anything to say beyond that I loved it!  Frequently, I’m just wayyy behind on reviews and am trying to catch up.  For whatever reason, these are books that only have a few paragraphs of thoughts from me.

The Indiscretions of Archie by P.G. Wodehouse – 3.5*

//published 1921//

This was another early Wodehouse that I hadn’t read before, and while enjoyable (as all his books are), this wasn’t particularly one of my favorites.  This particular book was created when Wodehouse combined several short stories he had written that all centered around Archie, so while the end result is cohesive, it still feels rather episodic in nature.  Archie is a very likable character who starts off on the wrong foot with his father-in-law and continues to accidentally do random things that keep their relationship strained (at least on the father-in-law’s side – Archie is invariably good-humored), which I think was part of the reason that I didn’t enjoy this book as much – most of the humor was based on Archie trying to do something nice and then it all backfiring and ending up with the father-in-law dealing with the disaster.  In the end, everyone ends up happy together, but that also felt a little contrived.  Still, there were plenty of humorous moments in this one, and while it wasn’t my favorite Wodehouse, it was still an enjoyable read.

Holiday Havoc by Terri Reed & Stephanie Newton – 3.5*

//published 2010//

This book is actually two short stories, one by each author.  Both were similarly unremarkable, with some serious instalove, but entertaining nonetheless.  It’s another book off the Love Inspired pile, which is really whittling down since I took most of them to Goodwill without actually reading them haha

The Villa by Nora Roberts – 3.5*

//published 2001//

Speaking of boxes of books, someone also gave me a box of Nora Roberts books at random a while back, so I’ve been sifting through those as well.  The Villa was definitely more novel than romance, a sweeping drama centered around two families who both own wineries.  I wasn’t completely sure it was going to be “my kind” of book, but I found myself drawn in almost against my will.  While I personally felt like this book could have done with more humor and less sex, it was still a very engaging story.  Despite the fact that there were a lot of characters, they felt like individuals.  The main female lead was a little too “strong independent woman” type for me (read: basically obnoxious but gets away with because she’s a woman), but I still ended up liking her.  This book followed one year of time, and the changing of the seasons was a big part of the story and really added to the overall epic feel.  Not a book I’ll ever reread, but surprisingly interesting for a one-time go.

Carousel of Hearts by Mary Jo Putney -3.5*

//published 1989//

This is yet another book from a box of books – a while ago I purchased a box of regency romances on eBay because the box included several Heyer titles I didn’t own.  Now I’m working my way through the non-Heyer titles, all of which, prior to this one, ended up being DNFs.  Carousel was an entertaining little read that was a bit strong on coincidence but was enjoyable nonetheless.  I really liked all four characters in this story, although they did need a stern talking-to.  It would honestly have been a 4*, except the ending got completely out of hand.  Still, this one ended up being a fun read.

The Legend of Luke by Brian Jacques – 4*

//published 1999//

The next installment in the Redwall series, Luke is really two stories in one.  The book begins with Martin and a few companions heading north to see if they can find out what happened to Martin’s father, who left on a quest when Martin was a child.  (As we learned in Martin the Warrior, Martin and the rest of his tribe were kidnapped and enslaved while Luke was gone.)  The first part of the book recounts Martin’s journey, which concludes when Martin finds several animals who knew Luke and know what happened.  The second part of the book is the story of Luke, pursuing vengeance on the high seas.  The third, and final, part of the book is Martin’s journey back to Redwall, which is still being constructed at this time (the Martin part of the story takes place chronologically after the events in Mossflower).

I actually enjoyed this book, which felt more focused than a lot of the other installments in this series.  It was also nice to have a story where the shrews aren’t just disposable extras!  And, thankfully, there weren’t that many scenes with the youngsters being obnoxious, which has been a theme in the last few books.  Overall, I’m still enjoying and planning to finish the series, but it’s working well to read them one at a time a bit spread out.

February Minireviews

Sometimes I don’t feel like writing a full review for whatever reason, either because life is busy and I don’t have time, or because a book didn’t stir me enough.  Sometimes, it’s because a book was so good that I just don’t have anything to say beyond that I loved it!  Frequently, I’m just wayyy behind on reviews and am trying to catch up.  For whatever reason, these are books that only have a few paragraphs of thoughts from me.

I must be getting super lazy about reviews, because I am actually giving minireviews of entire series this month… those are like mini mini reviews!

Anyone But You series by Jennifer Shirk

  • Fiance by Fate – 3*
  • Wedding Date for Hire – 3.5*
  • Wrong Brother, Right Match – 3.5*

This was my first foray into Shirk’s writing, but I don’t think it will be my last.  While ultimately forgettable, these books were lighthearted, funny, happy, and clean.  They were the perfect fluff bits for a stressful week.  Shirk does a good job of writing tropes in a way that makes them easy and fun to read.  I really appreciated that Shirk wrote happy, believable romances without having to insert a bunch of sexy-times.  There was tension between her characters that worked, but she didn’t have explicit sex, she didn’t have her characters spending absurd amounts of time sexually fantasizing about the other character (tip for writers: there’s a big difference between having someone be interested in someone/find them attractive and having someone go on and on and ON about how they would like to bang someone), she didn’t even leave me with a bunch of cut scenes implying that these characters were having loads of sex off-screen.  Instead, the story was about the romance between the characters.  Consequently, even though these stories were a bit silly and slightly absurd, I really did enjoy them and found myself rooting for the romances even if they were a little on the insta-side.

All in all, these were really fun little stories.  If you’re just looking for something low-stress, I totally recommend these.  Personally, I’ll definitely be checking out more of Shirk’s writing in the future.

Fields of Wrath by Mark Wheaton – 3.5*

This was another free Kindle book I’ve had forever.  There were a lot of things I liked about this story.  The main character is a Catholic priest named Luis Chavez living in a city in California (can’t remember which one).  Through a series of events, he’s drawn into a situation where he believes people are being trafficked from Mexico, so he goes undercover to see what he can find.  Although Luis is a rogue in the sense that he isn’t any kind of official law-enforcement, it never really felt like he was taking the law into his own hands.  Instead, he believes in the importance of justice and protecting the innocent, and is determined to make sure these things happen.  I really liked the way that Luis’s faith was central to his actions.  He actually reminded me a lot of another Catholic character I love – Brother Cadfael.  He had that same sort of earthy wisdom tempered with a strong faith.

However, the story was a bit disjointed.  There were several other (third person) perspectives going on, which made it difficult to remember which characters already knew what.  The body count was extremely high, yet I had a lot of trouble connecting emotionally with this story, so even when people I liked got knocked off, it didn’t really stir me to the depths.  Honestly, Wheaton killed off so many people that it almost felt more emotional when someone lived!

In the end, it was a book that I wanted to like more than I actually did.  Although there are two more books with Luis as their central character, I just wasn’t interested enough to read them.

A Damsel in Distress by P.G. Wodehouse – 4.5*

When in doubt, turn to Wodehouse.  He never fails to bring me joy.  Even when I feel like I’m not in the mood for a Wodehouse book, within a page or two, it’s the only thing I want to read.  This one was full of his usual capers and coincidences, and I thoroughly enjoyed every page.

Alaskan Bride Rush series by various authors (Love Inspired)

  • Klondike Hero by Jillian Hart – 3*
  • Treasure Creek Dad by Terri Reed – 3*
  • Doctor Right by Janet Tronstad – 3*
  • Yukon Cowboy by Debra Clopton – 3.5*
  • Thanksgiving Groom by Brenda Minton – 3*
  • The Lawman’s Christmas Gift by Linda Goodnight – 3.5*

Those of you who have been with me for a while may remember that quite a while back I inherited roughly half a billion romance paperbacks from my great-aunt, the overwhelming majority of which were “Love Inspired,” a Christian romance series that used to be a thing where you signed up and the mailed you a book every month, which is obviously what my great-aunt did for YEARS.  Originally I wanted to try to read them all, but the overwhelming mediocrity of the first few batches I plowed through made me realize that this wasn’t how I wanted to spend my life.  Instead, I packed them off to various book donation locations, except for a few where I actually had an entire series of them.

As you can tell from the series title, these weren’t exactly intensely serious, deep stories.  Instead, they’re just Hallmark movies in book form.  Honestly, they’re probably more like knock-off Hallmark movies in book form if I’m honest.  :-D  Like most of the Love Inspired books I’ve read, these were super relaxing, incredibly forgettable, very quick reads.  I always enjoy series like this where you get to know a place and background characters, and I was impressed at how well the different authors were able to build off of one another’s stories and characters.  Set in a remote Alaskan town, the stories begin because of an article in a woman’s magazine touting all the hunky single guys to be found in Treasure Creek.  The whole thing is a misunderstanding because the journalist who wrote the article was supposed to be from an outdoors magazine and was supposed to write about the wilderness tours in the area, but apparently she was more into the tour guides.  So women start trucking to Treasure Creek to see what they can find, and there you have one of the goofiest settings for a series of romance stories that you can imagine, yet it somehow mostly worked.

Sometimes you just want to read some stories that follow simple, predictable lines.  They’re the comfort food of books.  While I don’t ever see myself returning to Treasure Creek, they weren’t bad for a one-time read.  So if someone else wants these, you should let me know before I drop them off at Salvation Army next time I’m in town…